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Pub in the Park with Tom Kerridge in Tunbridge Wells with KT Tunstall and Rick Astley

By Angela Cole

Is Tom Kerridge a genius?

Often the best ideas are the ones where you think "Why didn't someone think of this before?"

And that's how it is with Pub in the Park. The celebrity chef has brought together everything that makes us happy: the weekend, summer, live music you want to dance to, and really good food and drink - and you wonder, why hasn't this happened before?

Pub in the Park Picture: Will Bailey
Pub in the Park Picture: Will Bailey

Usually when you go to an outdoor live music event or festival, the food is about eight very expensive, greasy chips and a burger, which you wolf down because you're hungry and that's what's on offer.

But Tom has made the food the highlight - and the music and the atmosphere then bring themselves. He had also said to me weeks before "Tunbridge Wells - you bring the weather" and, happily, it did.

Last night, Dunorlan Park was busy but just the right level, and there were queues to visit the many, many drink vendors - you name it, it's there from Champagne, to wine and cocktails to beer - but none of them were too long. Even the queues for the food stalls which provided top flight food from award winning chefs - we chose the Tanner brothers' Kentish Hare offerings - weren't too long.

Pub in the Park with Tom Kerridge
Pub in the Park with Tom Kerridge

And, with our VIP wristbands, we popped in to the VIP tent only to find Tom himself in there chatting away, as relaxed as if he was in his own living room, talking about everything from his favourite cheese to put on a burger to how to glaze carrots so they may possibly be 1,000 calories.

When the live music started, we could not have been happier to sing along to rock chick KT Tunstall - looking every bit the Suzi Quatro of 2019, with skin tight shiny green trousers, feathered hair and a grungy guitar. That girl has an edge - who else would bring on a black horse and a cherry tree, literally, to dance along to her song, Black Horse and the Cherry Tree? We were only sorry she couldn't play for longer, as the time whizzed by.

KT on stage with... a horse and a cherry tree
KT on stage with... a horse and a cherry tree

I'd heard Rick Astley puts on a good show, but was unfussed. But the 80s star, who got the crowd to say "We love you Rick" and then promptly took the mickey out of his 53-year-old self for having done it, has a banging set which gets you bopping along despite yourself.

Rick Astley on stage in Tunbridge Wells
Rick Astley on stage in Tunbridge Wells

This was the first night of three for Pub in the Park, with Soul II Soul Soundsystem playing this afternoon and this evening a DJ set from Basement Jaxx and a set by Stereo MCs, followed by Gabrielle and Natalie Williams and the Soul Family on Sunday afternoon, and Will Young, along with The Bluetones on Sunday evening.

It's the second year for the event in Kent, but let's hope it becomes an annual one. To book tickets go to pubintheparkuk.com/tunbridge-wells

To find out what’s going on in the county and for all the latest entertainment news click here.

Read all our Secret Drinker pub reviews here.

Chef demonstrations are part of Pub in the Park
Chef demonstrations are part of Pub in the Park

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